Growing up, my family made a gingerbread house every year. Actually, I think we only made an actual house one year. It became a challenge to see how creative we could get each year as we made a church (complete with stained glass windows made out of Life Savers), castle, log cabin, barn, library, theater, and more. Mom was the baker, Dad and my brothers were the architects, and my sisters and I mostly jumped in for the decorating. I have no idea how this tradition got started, but I’m grateful for the memories we created while gathered around the kitchen table gluing Necco wafers on the roof of our gingerbread masterpieces.
With my little guys, I’m not quite brave enough to attempt the Taj Mahal from gingerbread yet, but I wanted them to get a sense of the tradition I love. So last week, with some trepidation about how it would go, we made gingerbread cookies. We used this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, and it worked great. The cookies maintained their shape, and they had a strong flavor. We made all sorts of Christmasy shapes, and a token cowboy at Little Man’s request (because cowboys fit into Christmas, right?). Now, I may or may not have wanted to throw the cookies out the window and plop everyone in front of a movie at one or more points during the process, but in the end, I’m glad we did it. Little Man loved putting sprinkles on the cookies and helping squeeze the icing out of the bag, and Baby Boy was happy for as long as I was giving him little bits of dough to play with/eat.
The cookies may not be essential to a merry Christmas, but making time to make memories is. And that’s what all traditions are really, right? They’re a reason to come together and share meaningful experiences. They’re a way to perpetuate our heritage and create a strong culture. Most importantly, they are a way to build a united family through sharing experiences with one another. And that, which I believe will be so important as they grow, is worth having my kitchen engulfed by flour and sprinkles.Besides, look at that proud little face!